Biblical sensuality, 1959 Hollywood style


Solomon and Sheba 1959 via Tumblr
Solomon and Sheba 1959 via Tumblr

Sheba, a great pagan Queen comes to seduce Solomon, the Israelite King, with the intent of his destruction. Turns out she falls for him and vice versa. After many twists and turns, Sheba converts to Judaism and God rules that they each remain in their separate nations. This is loosely based on the Biblical account and other religious commentaries (opinions, arguments) external to the Bible.

It was nice to see Yul Brynner as a young man with hair. And Gina Lollobrigida is enchanting. I love discovering classic actors heard about in childhood but never seen in action. She is fantastic. A major Hollywood sex symbol in the late 50s and early 60s. Apparently Howard Hughes invited her to work in Hollywood earlier on, but she declined, preferring Europe. This may have delayed her career a bit. But I respect her for doing what she wanted, and not being swayed by the eccentric tycoon.

I enjoyed this movie. When historical films are well done, as this one is, it always gets me back to the books. The battle and temple scenes are especially good. Maybe they’re not entirely accurate. I don’t know. I’d have to spend weeks researching that. But overall, the excellent visuals help me to flesh out not just Biblical passages about Solomon but much of the Old Testament… a curious work of power, as Northrop Frye put it.

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